What is Transcription?
Simply put, transcription refers to taking some form of audio or video recording, listening to it and converting it into accurate text, usually with time stamps at regular intervals so that the client can easily locate different parts of the recording. Depending on the number of people talking, whether or not they are native speakers, the audio quality and the nature of what is being recorded, this may be a relatively simple process (though still fairly time consuming) or a real slog.
Who uses Transcription services?
Nowadays, with more and more videos and podcasts uploaded onto the internet, the demand for transcription services has grown and is no longer simply the domain of doctors or lawyers or business people rattling off reports, ideas and proposals into a dictaphone. Students, YouTubers, internet entrepreneurs, journalists will all, from time to time, require something to be transcribed. It might be that people find the ideas flow more easily if they can speak them rather than write them. Podcasters and vloggers may want a written record so that they can market their audio visual content more easily, allowing Google to track keywords, for example. Whatever the reason, they can concentrate on the business of creation and leave it to someone else to format those words into text.
What about transcription software?
Programmes do exist which will (attempt to) transcribe your audio files for you but, if you have ever used one yourself, you’ll know how far they fall short, particularly with files where there is more than one speaker or a lot of extraneous noise. Moreover they are unlikely to cope with strong accents or very technical vocabulary.
A human being, on the other hand, has an understanding of all those things plus an intuitive feel for what is being said. Some clients may want the record tidying up slightly, taking out unnecessary repetitions or hesitation fillers. For others it is important to record the pace of the interview to reflect when there was a lengthy pause, for instance. You can add these notes into the transcription, rather like stage directions and thus produce a written record that also conveys the mood behind the words.
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